As a high school or introductory undergraduate Chemistry, Geography or Earth Sciences teacher, you can use this set of tools to teach about the water cycle- its components, the distribution of natural water resources on Earth and the impact of climate change on it.
This lesson plan allows students to learn about the different stages of the water cycle and the factors that influence it. It includes resources that teach students about the different components of the water cycle in detail and how they can be affected by climate change. This lesson plan also enables students to learn about the distribution of water resources under a natural water cycle, how it could be altered due to anthropogenic practices, and what measures could be adopted for a sustainable future.
The use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Chemistry, Geography or Earth Sciences.
Lesson plan contributed by Dr Akanksha Gupta (Sri Venkateswara College) and Dr Vinod Kumar (Kirori Mal College), Delhi, India.
Want to know more about how to contribute? Contact us.
Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- What is the Earth’s natural water cycle? Describe its components.
- Explain how the water cycle determines the distribution of the natural water resources on Earth.
- How could human activities affect the Earth’s natural water cycle?
- How does the water cycle affect Earth’s climate and vice versa?
- What are the effects of global climate change on Earth’s natural water cycle?
About Lesson Plan
|Grade Level||High school, Undergraduate|
|Discipline||Chemistry, Geography, Earth Sciences|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Environmental Chemistry, Water Cycle
Biogeochemical Cycles, Hydrologic Cycle
Condensation, Evaporation, Evapotranspiration
Groundwater, Precipitation, Sublimation
|Climate Topic||Climate and the Hydrosphere
Climate and the Atmosphere
|Language(s)||English, one resource available in several languages|
|Access||Online, some resources are available offline|
|A video that introduces the natural water cycle on Earth and briefly describes the processes involved in it.|
|Reading (45 min)||A reading that describes the different components of the water cycle in detail. It also includes downloadable diagrams of the water cycle with a brief summary of the water cycle in several languages.|
|Reading (~15 min)||A reading that explains how climate change affects the water cycle on Earth.|
|Optional: Teaching Module (~50 min)||An optional comprehensive teaching module that discusses the distribution of water on Earth under a natural water cycle and how this can be affected by anthropogenic activities.|
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Topic introduction and discussion
- Use the video, ‘Water Cycle’ by Khan Academy to introduce your students to the processes involved in the water cycle on Earth.
- Describe how the water changes through gas-liquid phases and how each phase impacts life on Earth.
- Finally, discuss how the water cycle results in the distribution of saltwater and freshwater resources on Earth.
Step 2: Extend understanding
- Use the webpage, ‘The Water Cycle for Adults and Advanced Students’, by the USGS (United States Geological Survey) Water Science School, to explore various aspects of the natural water cycle in detail.
- Use the tabs in the ‘Overview’ section to explain the different components of the water cycle such as condensation, precipitation, and evaporation.
- Stress on the importance of each component in maintaining the equilibrium of the natural water cycle and on the distribution of natural water resources on Earth.
- Direct your students to download the water cycle diagram for a visual representation of the natural water cycle.
- If required, use the interactive water cycle diagram in the multimedia section to enable better understanding of the topic.
- Note: The water cycle diagram and a summary text are available in over 60 different languages.
Step 3: Discuss further
- Use the reading, ‘The Water Cycle and Climate Change’ by UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research) Center for Science Education to explain the effects of climate change on the natural water cycle on Earth.
- Discuss using the text, how processes such as evaporation, precipitation, and cloud formation are affected by climate change.
- Further explain how these changes in turn could exacerbate global warming, leading to increased changes in the Earth’s climate.
Step 4 (Optional) : Teaching Module on the Water Cycle and Freshwater Resources
- Use the teaching module, ‘Unit 2: The Hydrologic Cycle and Freshwater Resources’ by SERC (The Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College) to discuss the different components of the water cycle, the distribution of Earth’s water resources and the possible effects of anthropogenic activities on the quality and availability of water.
- Use the teaching notes to enable discussions on how human beings could optimize the use of water resources to facilitate environmental justice globally and adopt sustainable practices in keeping with Earth’s natural water cycle.
- The teaching module has several downloadable documents such as pre-class activity sheet, assessment rubric, instructors’ notes, and lecture notes. The entire teaching module is also available to be downloaded for offline use.